Roswell Water Utility customers could see annual rate increases of four or five percent over the next 20 years if nothing is done to improve the city's current water treatment plant, according to Roswell's director of Public Works/Environmental Stuart Moring.
No matter what, water treatment plant operation costs are expected to rise, according to a prior Gresham Smith & Partners consultant analysis (attached to this article as a PDF). How much they'll rise is dependant upon whether or not the city makes necessary improvements, Moring said about the .
"We would need a higher rate increase if we don’t make the improvements," Moring said. "Considering that these costs are estimated to double in about 20 years, water rates to customers could double if these cost savings [plant improvements] are not realized."
Moring likens the improvements to replacing an old, gas-guzzler car with a new one that gets twice as many miles to the gallon of fuel.
"The savings continue to grow throughout the life of the vehicle as fuel and other costs continue to rise," he said.
An enterprise fund covers the water utility cost, so the the $17.2 million bond that would be required to build a new plant would be paid for by water customers only, not the general taxpayers of Roswell. Moring says a new plant will reduce operating costs in the near term by approximately $600,000-$700,000 per year. It's money that will be used to pay off the loan taken out to construct the plant.
"The amount of savings will grow each successive year," he said.
Moring also points out that building and operation costs are just projections based on current trends.
"If the increases don’t materialize, the rates won’t have to go up," he said, pointing toward a recent reduction in sanitation rates because the city saved more than was expected. However, within the .
There are approximately 5,600 Roswell households - appoximately 15,000 residents - who get their water from the city, the rest receive water via Fulton County. The current plant was built in 1937. Today, upgrades made in during the 1990s allow it to produce 1.2 million gallons per day. A new plant would produce about 2.8 million gallons per day.
The construction of a new water treatment plant has not been approved by city council. Once conceptual designs are completed, public comment will be requested.
Previous water treatment plant studies and analysis are available to the public. Call the city's at 770-641-3750.